The following column, by GPCC President and CEO Rob Wonderling, ran in the Philadelphia Metro on February 8:

This week, Mayor Nutter spoke to members of the business community at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) annual Mayoral Luncheon. Representatives of businesses both big and small came out in force to hear the Mayor’s plans for economic growth.

The Mayor’s plans come on the heels of the recently released GPCC Economic Outlook 2012 Survey which found that while the regional economy has improved over the past year and the unemployment rate has fallen, rates remain high as the economy lacks the strength to accommodate all job seekers.  The survey, conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, also noted that employers are having a difficult time finding workers with the right skills at all levels of employment.

One of the issues high on the Mayor’s priority list – and the business community’s – is our workforce. The Mayor noted that an educated and skilled workforce is essential for our region to attract new businesses and grow the companies that are already here.

In his remarks, the Mayor noted that the 2010 census confirmed that Philadelphia’s population grew for the first time in 60 years. Much of that population growth was driven by immigrants and young, educated professionals. They are developing new businesses, innovating in established fields and making Philadelphia an international, 21st century city.

The Mayor added that it’s not just individuals driving growth in Philadelphia; it is also our businesses. Our dynamic companies are driving Philadelphia’s increasingly global reputation as a city of ideas, a place where ingenuity is celebrated.

He also pointed out the need to invest in Philadelphia’s infrastructure – making Philadelphia more livable “because place matters. Companies think about place when they recruit employees, woo customers and manage logistics.” Workers think about it too. Is this a place where I want to live and raise my family?

Mayor Nutter spoke at length about specific projects going on throughout the city. Projects like the $50 million renovation of Dilworth Plaza, which after employing 900 construction workers, will rival the parks of Europe. On the Delaware waterfront, the Mayor talked about the Race Street Pier and Connector opening and completing the trail network from Pennsport to Tacony. He also spoke about much needed improvements to Market East.  He envisions families visiting the sites of Independence Mall and then walking to 13th Street’s Midtown Village or Rittenhouse Square for dinner.

We applaud the Mayor for his vision and his efforts to make Philadelphia a truly world-class city.  As members of the business community we are committed to helping the Mayor and his administration succeed in achieving these very important goals.

To read more about the Chamber’s Economic Outlook Survey, visit http://news.gpcc.com/.